I started working on my Day of the Dead altars this weekend. It’s always a special time deciding on the perfect way to display the memories of loved ones who have left us. Then I head to the basement to pull out my DOD boxes which takes a bit more time these days with all the new items I’ve added to my collection over the years! But I do love going through the boxes and seeing what will work to enhance the beauty of the altars and memories.
This year, I made just a few tweaks to my altars. I picked up some very colorful papel picado tin buckets at Target in the “One Spot” section of the store last year and thought they would be the perfect addition to my altars. The turquoise, yellow and orange colors go perfectly with the other décor and in particular, the marigolds that I use to adorn all the altars. I’ve added tea light candles to each bucket and I know the light reflecting through the bucket will be beautiful tomorrow night…
Mariachi hats were another addition this year. I found to child mariachi hats at the Alabama Thrift store earlier this year. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. These hats are not cheap and they are in excellent condition. I knew I would use them for something and when I started pulling my altars together, they just worked. In addition, my mother gave me three miniature mariachi hats for my birthday in February, so those were also added. One day I hope to add a full size mariachi hat to my altar. I can already envision what it will look like!
Finally, while I was in At Home a few weeks ago, I spotted a terra-cotta sugar skull as I was about to leave the store. So many of the DOD items you see these days are a little too mass-produced looking. I guess that’s why you can find them everywhere. But this one was different…and so if there was one, there had to be another! So I set out to search the store for one and I spotted it – out of sight in the Halloween section. Perfect! They look great on my dining room table!
As for photographs of loved ones who have passed…I remember a scene from the movie “Book of Life” about remembering all your ancestors to keep their memory alive. As I’ve been getting photos organized this year, I came across several from my mother’s side – the Weavers and the Vansants. My great-great-grandfather Levi Weaver is pictured in one photo with his young wife Bessie Vansant Weaver along with his grown children and a few of their own. With the photo of Mary and Rufus Vansant I’m trying to recall the relationship. I think they were my great-great-grandmother’s parents and I know I have this written down somewhere but I have several boxes of photos and family tree information that I need to go through and sort and identify. My Aunt Gail gave me this photo many years ago and it has always spoken to me because of their clothing and where they are sitting. They look like sharecroppers to me but that’s just my impression so I’m not sure. And I imagine that life wasn’t very easy for them either. These are additions to my altar this year…
Tomorrow night, I will light the candles and photograph the glow of the altars. Then I will sit in my living room and reflect on the lives represented on these altars and give thanks for each and every life.
Viva la vida!